Federal truck and rail regulators announced the first steps in determining whether they will create rules to track and treat potentially dangerous sleep apnea in transportation workers.
“It is imperative for everyone’s safety that commercial motor vehicle drivers and train operators be fully focused and immediately responsive at all times,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration on Tuesday opened a 90-day period for public comment on screening, evaluating and treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) among truck drivers and railway workers.
“The Department of Transportation strongly encourages comment from the public on how to best respond to this national health and transportation safety issue,” Foxx said.
The agencies will host three public events in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles to seek public input.
“The collection and analysis of sound data on the impact of OSA must be our immediate first step,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “We call upon the public to help us better understand the prevalence of OSA among commercial truck and bus drivers, as well as the safety and economic impacts on the truck and bus industries.”
Obstructive sleep apnea is a respiratory condition that disrupts breathing during sleep.
The FMCSA called sleep apnea among transportation workers a “critical safety issue” and said that moderate to severe cases “can cause unintended sleep episodes and deficits in attention, concentration, situational awareness, memory, and the capacity to safely respond to hazards when performing safety sensitive service.”